Bowling Green is looking to rebound from a difficult start to a season filled with high expectations.
The Falcons — the coaches pick to win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association — are 0-2 after they didn’t play well during most of their season-opening series.
Bemidji State, on the other hand, played well in a 2-1, 4-1 home sweep of the Falcons.
The Falcons face Western Michigan (2-0) in a home-and-home series this weekend. The teams play Friday in the Ice Arena and Saturday in Kalamazoo. Face-off both nights is 7:07.
BG’s game was sharp and filled with intensity in just two of the six periods, the third period Friday and the first period Saturday. The Falcons’ worst period was the third period Saturday when they gave up three goals and were outshot 15-4 as Bemidji pulled away from a 1-1 tie.
Western Michigan opened with a 5-3, 2-1 home-and-home sweep of Ferris State, BG’s rival in the WCHA.
“Our process wasn’t even close to good enough either night,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “I didn’t love our competition level and our intensity for most of the weekend. That is something we say we’re going to be, no matter what.”
BG had its share of mistakes, but the execution level often isn’t perfect early in the season.
“We want to play better,” Bergeron said. “We want to be who we are more of the time. We want to be better with the process. The process is our lifeline. We know it leads to results. The focus is our process, our competition level.
“I understanding losing happens, but when you don’t put up a fight for enough of the time, that’s not who we are. We need to establish who we are. Let’s at least be ourselves. If we’re going to lose, let’s lose fighting because that’s what we do. That’s what we got away from. Competing hard is a decision, something we want to do no matter what.”
Bergeron said the coaching staff also will rely on its seniors and juniors this week to make sure the team is ready for the Western Michigan series.
“It’s important the seniors and the juniors take this team and say, ‘It’s two games, it’s OK, but we can’t keep playing the way we’re playing,’” Bergeron said.
INJURY UPDATE: Bergeron said it “doesn’t look good” for BG’s Brett D’Andrea to play this weekend. The junior forward didn’t make the trip to Bemidji because of an upper-body injury. He scored twice in BG’s Oct. 1 exhibition against the University of Windsor.
“We’re erring on the side of caution,” Bergeron said, adding D’Andrea had no contact during practice on Tuesday. “We’ve got healthy bodies. We’re not going to rush him back.”
POLLS: The Falcons dropped in both national polls this week.
In the U.S. College Hockey Online Top 20, BG fell from 14th to 20th and saw its point total fall from 370 to 63.
The Falcons dropped out of the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Top 15. They totaled four points this week after receiving 64 last week when they were 15th.
IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: The WCHA is perceived as one of the weakest leagues overall among the six NCAA Division I leagues, and the league’s image already is taking a hit this season. The WCHA is 1-9 in nonleague games.
The league also wasn’t helped by BG’s two losses at Bemidji and Ferris’ two losses at home to Alabama-Huntsville Oct. 1-2. Ferris was fourth in the coaches poll for the 10-team league, while UAH was ninth. Ferris then had two losses at Western Michigan, which was next-to-last in the coaches poll for the eight-team National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
The WCHA was 28-36-9 in nonleague games last season, including a 5-20-2 record against the NCHC. The nonleague record was one of the major reasons the WCHA only received one bid to the NCAA playoffs, and regular season co-champions Michigan Tech and Minnesota State didn’t earn at-large berths after losing in the league playoffs.
SERIES: The Falcons are 71-57-7 all-time against Western Michigan, including two losses last season. The Broncos posted a 4-1 win Oct. 13 at home and 1-0 victory Dec. 30 at the Huntington Center in Toledo.
BG is 0-8-1 in its last nine meetings at Western Michigan, its last win there coming Jan. 19, 2008.
The teams haven’t played in the Ice Arena since the 2012-13 season, their last as rivals in the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
HOME ICE: The Falcons have won their last three home-openers. They were 12-4-5 in the Ice Arena last season and are 36-14-7 in the Ice Arena during the last three seasons.